Friday, August 21, 2015

After the single night camping trip was such a success back in June, I quickly scheduled a two night trip for August. The whole Turek clan would be settled back in after the July Midwestern trip, and there would actually be darkness for some of the night (in June it was a hard sell for Henry to go to bed when the tent just remained aglow under the midnight sun).

I picked another nearby campground that was close to some salmon streams, as Henry was going to get his first chance to hook some fish. Portage valley is a pretty area, has plenty of hiking and glaciers, and is only 50 miles away. Perfect.


The weather was not perfect to say the least. Friday night was pleasant and clear, Saturday morning was overcast yet dry, and Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon was continuous rain. As you can see above, when you put Henry in his rain gear, he's happy and ready to go.

If Henry has had any difficulty on these trips, it's been in steadying himself during the hour it takes me to load up the truck. He alternates between bouncing off the walls inside and standing seriously in his boots next to the door.

Below is Henry's first fish -- the literal first fish he's ever caught. I would hook into the pink salmon that day and then promptly pass the pole over to this smiling guy. I think he, quite frankly, loved it. He also had his own brand new fishing pole, which I wisely set up only with a bobber and small sinker. He spent plenty of time casting into the creek, trees, and everywhere else -- while I was calmly pleased to have not attached any hooks to his line.


When we arrived the tide was way in, but thankfully within 20 minutes the water started to drift back out to sea. I've fished this creek before and know that eventually it will recede such that we can stand on gravel to fish. Off we hiked across the mud that had recently been covered in search of more fish.

Henry took a few tumbles in the mud and didn't care for it, but after getting rinsed off seemed back to 100%.


Saturday afternoon and evening, we cooked in the drizzle, hiked 3 miles in a downpour, and started a fire in the slowing rain. The temperature was reasonable, though the rain was pretty annoying. Henry was the one demanding the hike, fire, and everything else though. He only fussed after falling in the mud at the creek, and after taking a tumble after getting his foot caught on the edge of the tent. He loved it all, rain or no rain.

After dinner I suggested we read stories in the tent thanks to the rain, but Henry asserted that we ought to walk through the campground to "stretch our legs after eating." Ok. I'm glad we did because we ran into a handful of people that alerted us to a black bear and cubs cruising around the campground. Henry was pretty excited about this, and with our bear spray at the ready and the abundance of dogs throughout the other campsites, I wasn't worried at all. Exciting times for the Turek guys.

All camping photos here.

While the boys were away, our young lady took advantage of all the toy trucks that sat lonely and untouched.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

I'm sure in a few years there will piles of kids running around, but for Piper's first birthday we decided to keep it very low key. Randy and Kelly were kind enough to host for us, even though they had just returned from a trip a few days earlier. Becky and the kids had just returned from the Midwest a week earlier as well.

 All told, everyone had yet to completely settle back in to Alaska. A pile of cupcakes were put together, some brats were thrown on the grill, and a few friends were invited.

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Piper had to be primed with a some frosting on Mommy's fingers, after which she start digging in herself. Oddly, she never dove in full force. Everyone seemed impressed that she is such a dainty young lady, but as parents we quickly mentioned that she can put on a mess quite well.

Piper eventually dozed off in Mommy's arms as we continued to visit and chat about European vacations and our perfect Alaskan summer.

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Full set of birthday party photos here.

Friday, August 7, 2015

I think we're finally settled back into Alaska. The new 4Runner has the plates from the DMV, the fridge is full, and all new clothes from the trip are washed and folded away. We've even headed out to some events with our pre-school social groups. We're back in the swing.

Here is a photo dump:

Minocqua, WI

Hershey, PA

Gettysburg, PA

Hebron, IN

Fair Oaks Dairy

Misc. Wisconsin

Or, just start at the beginning of all of the photos in one big pile.

Monday, August 3, 2015

We're still happily hanging around 70 degrees here in sunny Alaska, though the fireweed is getting high enough to signal that we're probably 5 weeks away from fall. It will be getting chilly very soon, but from the current weather you'd think summer was never going to end. It's never easy to perfectly time blueberry picking in south central Alaska -- it seems that once a news story signals that the berries are in, you can bet that the wisest pickers have already raided the obvious spots 7 days prior. It's a sport to be sure.

Most folks have a hidden spot, and we are no exception. However, our spot is at the end of a really arduous trail, one that has steep trails that involve crawling on your knees for several sections. It's a tough slog, but the berries at the top are well worth it. That place will need to wait a few years for Piper and Henry to get a little sturdier, so in the meantime we headed to Eagle River for a smooth, easy trail to the mountainside.

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As we expected, the bushes were a little picked over, though there were berries to be found once you adjusted your eyes to their size, color, and level. Soon Henry and I were bent over, picking away at the wild treats. Henry insisted on using the berry picker and seemed to get the hang of it quickly, particularly when I pointed at clusters of berries so he could slowly line up the picker. Becky and I ultimately put together a nice 2-3 cup bag of blueberries.

Being conservative, I believe Henry picked at least 30 blueberries. Most importantly, he immediately popped each berry into his mouth and chomped down. He even grabbed a handful from my bag for good measure. We gently chided him about saving some for muffins tomorrow, but he would only giggle and shovel them in faster. It's hard to be upset about your kid eating too much wild fruit.

Full set of photos here.

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